Give>Receive

Give-Receive

Every time my mom comes to visit she enters the door with brown paper grocery bags hanging from both arms, a 13×9 pan tucked into one arm, and she’s also got my dad loaded down with full sacks and random items. Inside the bags are things she’s seen at the store that she, “just knew one of us would love,” clothes she doesn’t want anymore that she thinks I might like, and miracle creams from the Estee Lauder counter that came free with her make up purchases. The pan in her arm is always filled with “Baked Fudge,” her special dessert that my husband and boys love.

 

I used to attend church with my mother-in-law, when we lived near them. She never entered the church house empty handed. She always had a homemade peach cobbler for someone who’d recently had a baby, or a pot of chicken and dumplings for an elderly person that had been sick, or a sack of groceries (You know, extra things from her pantry – wink, wink.) for a struggling family, or new coats that she just happened to find on sale for people she’d noticed needed them.

 

A very dear friend of mine opened her home to foster kids a few years ago. Now, her family of three suddenly has seven, with beautiful kids of all different skin tones calling each other brother and sister, being raised together in a home filled with lots of love and hilariously crazy adventures.

 

There are a lot of takers in this world, that’s for sure. Sometimes it’s easy to focus on that. We think about the co-worker who stole our idea, or the family member who doesn’t do their fair share, or the people who you do, and do, and do, and do for and they still don’t seem satisfied. But instead of focusing on all of the takers, let’s decide to focus on the givers . . . the servicemen and women who’ve given so much to our country, parents or grandparents who’ve poured love into our lives over the years, church pastors and leaders who’ve loved us and shown us the way, or maybe you’ve been blessed with friends or neighbors or co-workers who have proven themselves to be givers.

 

But instead of focusing on all of the takers, let’s decide to focus on the givers

 

And let’s also focus on the Lord, the ultimate giver. John 3:16 says that God loved us all so much that He gave His one and only son for us. God is certainly the supreme giver, and aren’t we supposed to be like Him?

 

We’ve all heard it said that it’s more blessed to give than to receive . . . the joyful feeling that accompanies giving, the rewards from the Lord when He sees our giving, the satisfaction of knowing we are imitating our God when we give . . . these are all evidence of that fact.

 

Perhaps the best way to help us to give cheerfully is to remember that everything we do we are really doing as unto the Lord. Once I heard Billy Graham’s wife, Ruth, talk about a sign that hung in her kitchen. The sign read, “Divine Service Conducted Here Daily.” Ruth explained that sign reminded her that every meal she cooked should be done as unto the Lord. Wow! What an awesome perspective! This perspective is an eternal one, and when we look at things through eternal eyes, we will understand that the life of a giver is truly blessed life.

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself

I triple-dog-dare you to take exactly five minutes to ponder these five questions. Sixty seconds per question – you have that much time, don’t you? Okay, don’t have five minutes? Then how about just take sixty seconds to ponder the first question. It’s the most important.

question

1.) Do I believe in God?

2.) Do I believe in an afterlife?

3.) What is the point to my life?

4.) Am I doing anything that will outlast my life?

5.) Am I living out my beliefs?

I know this is a super-short blog post, but I just felt compelled to challenge people to take five minutes to think about these five questions. So many people don’t ever pause to think about these things, or maybe they thought about them twenty-five years ago, made up their mind, and haven’t ever thought about them again. I challenge you to re-visit these five questions often. They are the most important questions you could ever ask yourself.

All About Fools . . .

“Mrs. Fouts, you have something on your shirt!”

“Mrs. Fouts, I’m moving!”

“Mrs. Fouts, your shoe is untied!”

“Mrs. Fouts, I got into a car wreck this morning!”

Yes, it’s April Fools Day, and I’m spending it with sixth graders. Don’t feel sorry for me though, last year I played the most epic April Fools joke of my life on my students! I don’t know if I can ever top it. My friend Shannon, who taught next door to me, was quite pregnant at the time, and she and I convinced her class of seventh graders and my class of sixth graders that she was going into labor in the hallway. Most of the kids were so scared out of their minds that they just sat rigid in their seats, mouths agape in horror. It was awesome.

In honor of April Fools Day, I thought I’d look and see what the Bible has to say about fools. Specifically, the book of Proverbs has quite a lot to say on the subject. Here are a few things I found out about fools today . . .

  • Fools mock the Lord, Psalm 74:22.
  • Fools despise wisdom and instruction, Proverbs 1:7.
  • A fool lies and spreads slander, Proverbs 10:18.
  • A fool finds pleasure in wicked schemes, Proverbs 10:23.
  • “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” Proverbs 12:16.
  • “A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride.” Proverbs 14:3
  • “A fool is hotheaded.” Proverbs 14:16.
  • “A fool spurns parents’ discipline.” Proverbs 15:5
  • “Fools find no pleasure in understanding, but delight in airing their own opinions.” Proverbs 18:2.
  • “Every fool is quick to quarrel.” Proverbs 20:3.

Proverbs actually says quite a bit more about fools, and there are other places in the Bible that deal with the topic as well. It is my prayer today that I would not be a fool in the Lord’s eyes. I pray that He would give me wisdom!

Also, I pray that the Lord would be with me today as I’m with sixth graders all day on April 1st!

Have a lovely day,

Martha

Morning people, bald men, and naked guy . . . what?

Ever read a scripture and thought . . . what in the world does that mean? I truly believe that all scripture is inspired, even the weird and confusing ones. I believe they all have a deeper meaning and life application, but I certainly don’t have them all figured out. There are several verses that I feel that way about. Here are a few –

Mark 14:51-52, “Now a certain young man followed Him, having a linen cloth thrown around his naked body and the young men laid hold of him, and he left the linen cloth and fled from them naked.” What is happening here?

2 Kings 2:23-24, “Then he when up from there to Bethel, and as he was going up the road some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead! So he turned around and looked at them and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the Lord. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.” Can you imagine? Why did this happen?

One of the verses that I’ve never fully understood is –

Proverbs 27:14, “He who blesses his friend with a loud voice, rising early in the morning, it will be counted a curse to him.” I never understood any deep meaning in this verse beyond don’t talk loudly in the morning, and I’ll be honest – I’m a morning person, and I talk a lot in the mornings, and my husband has repeatedly been irritated with me for talking so much in the mornings. I’m the annoying person who wakes up singing to everyone in the house, but I recently I had a lightbulb moment with this verse. It’s all about motivation. Why would you loudly bless a friend in the morning, unless you were really trying to irritate him?

Let me give you an example. My son Kale is a champion antagonist to my son Keaton. I have been trying to get Kale to stop this, and he’s getting better, but he still has a long way to go. He knows just what to do to make Keaton yell and hit and inevitably get into trouble. What he is doing isn’t necessarily mean, like just smiling at him or just saying, “Hi Keaton,” but he knows his real motivation, and Keaton knows Kale’s real motivation, and it makes Keaton crazy. I feel Keaton’s pain, because my sister did the same thing to me!

When I started thinking about motivation, I remembered those scriptures about the way God judges. In Jeremiah 17:10 God says, “I, the Lord, search the heart. I test the mind.” He is the perfect judge. He goes beyond the action and tests the motivation behind the action.

118H     Lord, purify my heart. Make my motives right. I don’t want wrong motives to cause my good works to be a waste. The most horrible ending to my life would be for Matthew 7:23 to happen to me. After a lifetime of working for the kingdom for the Lord to say “depart from me, I never knew you.” What a terrible, terrible thought. How could that happen to someone? To me? Wrong motives. Working to build man’s kingdom and not the Lord’s, working for wealth or fame or earthly rewards. Lord, judge me now, so that I can escape judgment then.

I resolve to check my motives and intentions more often, and to remember it’s not just about my actions but it’s even more about the motives behind my actions that only the Lord sees.

And the Pastor’s Wife Said “Amen”

At our church we have three Sunday morning services, and usually I attend all three. So, yep, I hear my hubs preach the same message three times in a row every week. I must really love him to do that, huh? Just kidding (not really).

 

Well, one of the thoughts from yesterday’s sermon is still reverberating in my mind and heart today. The Bible passage that we learned from was from 2 Kings 7:3-9. The four leprous men asked themselves, “Why are we sitting here until we die?” It’s one of my favorite Bible stories, actually. There are so many relevant, applicable lessons we can take from that story. But there was just one thought from yesterday that I just can’t stop thinking about, and it’s this – –

 

“Be so busy pursuing God that you don’t have time to get entangled in wrong pursuits.”

 

My sweet hubs, um excuse me, the pastor, at this point in the sermon was explaining that these four men were taking action, being doers, and he was encouraging us to take action, to pursue God and do what God has called us to do. When we do that, we won’t have time to get entangled in messes.

 

Wow, what a thought. You mean “busy-ness” could actually be a good thing? “Busy-ness” is often spoken of in a negative way in the church world . . . but maybe when we are busy we are protected? Maybe we won’t have time to get in trouble?

 

I know with my three boys I try to keep them busy. I want them to be active – playing outside, playing sports, doing church stuff, chores, family outings – I want them to be occupied because we all know that kids and teenagers can easily find mischief to get into if they are not busy. Maybe it’s like that with us adults too?

 

Hmm . . . it’s something to ponder and pray about.

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